Navigating School Culture

I wanted to post about this ASAP as I feel that this can cause many issues for student teachers and veteran teachers alike. So what am I talking about here? What is school culture? Well you know when you walk into the break room or lunch room and people get quite as you open the door, this is the BIG issue with many schools cultures. Why does that happen? They are talking about something that shouldn't be heard by just anybody. Let's be honest, it's a gossip heavy profession! Sense this is a student teacher centered series I will focus on student teachers for now but I feel many could learn from this post. As a student teacher you should first know, they are probably not talking about you in there but they most likely do not want you to hear it. Don't take offense to this, these teachers just met you! In other cases teachers might actually tell you everything and voice all their complaints to you. This is fine but my advice is to be a listener only! Anything you contribute or say always has a chance of getting back to the wrong person.

 

I believe the main concern involving school culture for not only student teachers but any teacher in the school involves personal beliefs and attitudes. Every teacher has his or her own teaching style and belief system and this is bound to cause both positive and negative attitudes towards those who are similar and different to you. My main goal is to remind us all that we are not in high school anymore don't fall into the drama trap! Think about how you feel after you spent your lunch break complaining or listening to others complain. Do you feel rejuvenated and ready to finish out your day? I for one, do not! Instead I find myself going back into my room feeling stressed and scatterbrained for my next lesson with my kiddos. These kids deserve teachers who come back ready to teach, and we deserve breaks that help to decompress. So what do we do when this is just the culture surrounding us? This is especially tricky for student teachers for many reasons. First, you are just now forming and deciding on your opinions of many of these commonly discussed issues. Also, student teachers must be 10 times more careful about what they say than that of an employed teacher. Whether you are a veteran teacher, first year teacher, or still a student teacher the main piece of advice I have it STAY OUT OF IT. You can listen but not comment to either side of the conversation. You could also try changing topics and bring more positive conversations to life. It's amazing what this positive conversation can do for you, your classroom, and your whole school.

 

My last piece of advice, which was passed down to me from my cooperating teacher, is to find your person in the school. This is the person you know you can talk to and voice your opinion to but it will never get back to anybody else. We all have rough days and buttons that get pushed the wrong ways. This person ensures you are able to talk with a fellow educator who understands and allows you to go home in peace and your family at home to stay sane.

Ok I know this seemed like common sense but it's amazing how easy it is to fall into this trap and get stuck in negative habits. I hope this post brings to light some things you may not have been noticing yourself doing and helps you think about changing some habits. I would love to see some comments from new and veteran teachers with more tips on this topic!